THE PRIME MINISTER continues to play poker with herself, upping her own offer to the EU in return for absolutely nothing. The magic money tree is growing like topsy and we are now up to £53bn to leave the EU. That wasn't on the side of anyone's bus – and for a good reason. There is no need to pay the EU anything.
The Conservative and Unionists are caught between Scylla and Charybdis now.
The captain must choose to sail past a monster that will bite off the heads of some of her crew – or sail into the whirlpool that will sink the lot of them.
Pay £53bn to the EU and Labour will cry foul of massive cuts – yet they voted for Brexit and their voters are split. Lose a few MPs in marginals and suffer a few years under Corbyn? Abandon Brexit and the party disintegrates before our eyes.
That's England anyway. Scotland is a different matter. Defending £5bn in cuts, with rising debt while opposing the SNP will be a fight. The blank cheque to the EU is carte blanche to Sturgeon.
Every morsel of a poor deal will be nibbled. Any difference between what Ruth says and what we get will be a lense through which branch office unionists will be viewed.
1997 saw the Tories massacred by a conman because of Maastricht, the ERM, sleaze and....actually not much else. The council tax issue had been dealt with by 1993. The Cold War was won, Saddam Hussein beaten back in Gulf War One.
We were doing really well economically. It was culture and identity that killed us. No optimism for the country as a whole. Mumbling along, muddling through well just doesn't sell. People always need something more, something new. A vision. A dream.
We gave them Major. Boring, devoid of any inspiration beyond pulling a pint for the cameras and talking up his working class background. Sleaze slowly poisoned the party yet went unpunished, all while the Maastricht Bastards, the pre-Brexit Bastards were destroyed for doing nothing more than putting their country before party.
No vision, no principles, sleaze, empty rhetoric and an empty tank. Sound familiar?
The current sex scandals and weak position against the EU are corroding the party while those undermining Brexit are only playing the ball for the other side. In Scotland it is even worse. No one is going to win any prizes by talking-up the Nationalist position of loving the EU without condition while dropping unsubtle hints about indirectly revising the Scotland Act. What is the audience here? Who is this magical slice of the electorate who are unionist, social democrat and pro-EU?
I believe it is more than 50/50 we will have a snap General Election at Holyrood and/or Westminster within a year.
Recent polling showed the gain in Tory vote share at GE17 was down to the perception of three characteristics. Being right wing, being pro-Brexit and pro-Union. The last one is dare I say a crowded market. The Lib Dems and Labour have wised up to the fact their only future is being Labour Unionist or Liberal Unionist. Add to that the discount of being the government in Westminster AND running up a £53 billion bar tab and we see the two out of three vote winners are not in any way represented by the party leadership here in Scotland. That's a problem.
Talking about a GP crisis without a solution is not wise when the Tories are doing no better in England, when Labour is doing no better in Wales, when Sinn Fein and now Brokenshire are doing no better if not worse in Ulster. No one is fooled in throwaway announcements that needle governments without dealing with the issues causing the problem. It's tedious, not challenging.
Borrowing billions to build houses 30 years after we sold off the last lot at huge discount? To quote the late Kim Jong Il,
Hawking Little British statism against Great British Corbynomics or Scottish Nationalist Future Amazingness just won't turn a coin, let alone a profit. The fortunes of unionism and Toryism are uncoupling now. Poll ratings are worrying and we should be too.
If a snap election comes what are we really offering? What's the message, where's the juice? The Scottish Conservative vote is soft and for ideological reasons at least half of the membership is viewed as toxic by the leadership. Like the Bourbons we forget and learn nothing. When our share of the £53Bn Brexit appeasement bill materialises on the Scottish Budget we will have every criticism we make thrown back at us.
We're the working class party....seriously does anyone believe that? The background of our MSPs suggests otherwise. That said, threatening them with the sack because their face no longer fits is an appalling message to send out.
The associations don't matter, nor the members, yet rumours now circulate of a safe seat in the Home Counties, a road very well travelled. It looks awful. As David Torrance would wisely note, the "optics" are not looking good.
A little humility and direction would serve conservatism in Scotland well. Oh, and being a little less Bourbon about things too.